Yup...we're bracing for a hurricane after the shortest beach vacation ever: the fam and I arrived on Wednesday afternoon and were forced to evacuate on Friday morning. But that's not what I'm writing about today. Today, I want to share what writers can learn from Hurricane Irene (and other examples of nature's fury) that they can use in their manuscripts.
First, there's only so much preparation you can do. You can read the how-to books, get the perfect laptop (or the perfect pen if you're a scribbling type writer), arrange the ideal space for the Muse's visits, and let everyone know you're writing. Eventually, though, you have to stop preparing and hit the ground writing.
Hurricanes start out slow, building as time goes by, and they absorb the atmosphere around them. Writers do the same: absorbing what they read from other books, advice from critique partners and professionals, and honing their skills through continual practice.
Take no prisoners when you're writing! Sometimes we become so attached to our characters, we don't want to hurt them. No one wants to read a story about a pretty, kindhearted girl who never has a bad hair day. We need conflict. Hurricanes are full of conflict, drama, and take-no-prisoners attitude. Mother Nature doesn't care that a heroine runs a shelter for puppies, orphans, or the elderly. Her fury barrels through, wreaking havoc, and anticipating people will rebuild the destruction afterward (often so she can send a sister hurricane a few years later to destroy it all again). Save your sympathy for real life and wreak havoc on the page.
The aftermath can be devastating. Rejection hurts, whether it's your first or your hundredth. Sometimes, they're not as bad as you thought (particularly if you get some great feedback with a rejection), sometimes you'll get something so scathing, it feels like a hot knife to the heart. Do what all hurricane survivors do: pick up the shattered pieces, fix what you can, and move on.
Hurricanes have been around for centuries and are in no danger of dying out anytime soon. Once you're done with this writing storm, be prepared to build up drama for another manuscript. Write on!
To paraphrase "the most interesting man in the world": Stay safe, my friends!
For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page: http://www.ginaardito.com/ArticlesforWriters.html